Founded in 2010, Berkeley Earth (BE) is an independent non-profit research group that studies climates, oceans and “extreme” environmental events. BE has, and continues to be, entirely funded by a range of educational grants from organizations such as the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Fund for Innovative Climate Energy Research (created by Bill Gates). BE makes their wide variety of data about land and land and ocean studies available through placing it into one of three categories (output, source, and intermediate) on their website.
Looking at the data that BE is making available made me think of the rich, and growing, body of STS work related to the environment. Particularly, Paul N. Edwards’ book, A Vast Machine (2010), comes to mind. In this book, Edwards talks about how what we know of the world, as an environmental thing or happening, comes from models. Thinking through this environment-model-knowledge relationship, it’s interesting to think about the role that growing amounts of publicly available raw data might play in the creation or modification of models in the future; and, in turn, how such changes will impact how we conceive the world.
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